Tŷ Pawb, WrexhamTŷ Pawb (Everybody's House) is a new model for an arts venue, designed by architects Featherstone Young and opened in April 2018. It relocates Oriel Wrecsam - formerly Wrexham Arts Centre - to one of the town's three market spaces, The People's Market: an existing purpose-built 1990s multi-storey car park and market hall. The new facilities include art galleries, market stalls, performance space, a learning centre, cafes and bars. Studios and meeting rooms for artists and gallery staff overlook newly created double-height spaces. The project presents a new typology which reinvents the traditional art gallery to make it more relevant to people's everyday lives and reinvigorates underused public infrastructure enlivening it with new cultural uses.
- Planning and Design
Planning and Design Process
The client brief asked for a new arts venue with three traditional gallery spaces separate from the existing market stalls. Early consultation with market traders and the wider community indicated concerns that the two activities might not sit well together. Recognising that there were potential benefits that the two could bring to each other, the architects, Featherstone Young, suggested the brief be revisited and they proposed only one dedicated gallery space with a series of looser, less defined spaces that both the market and art centre could share.
‘Baggy space’ concept
Featherstone Young refers to this as the ‘baggy space’ concept, where designers create a light-touch framework which enables others to fill the gaps. This ‘baggy space’ concept went on to be adopted by Jo Marsh, Creative Director of Tŷ Pawb, in the arts programming, building in looser space around the fixed touring exhibitions for shorter, more immediate exhibitions that respond to pressing local issues, now known as the ‘Urgencies’ programme.
Mix of uses
The main art gallery and looser exhibition/event spaces are supported by a range of other facilities including a performance space, learning centre, art shop (Siop/Shop), cafes and studios. These sit within and around the main market hall which is spatially conceived as an extension of Wrexham’s streetscape, with covered squares and streets that re-establish a shortcut through the building, linking out of town to town centre. Careful choreography of the spaces ensures openness and fluidity. Large cuts in the building’s floors and walls, open up spaces and put all activities on view. Sqwr y Bobl (People’s Square) is at the heart of Tŷ Pawb, and its transformative transparent curtains allow people to use this space for a range of different events.
Wal Pawb (Everyone’s Wall) changes what could have been a large dividing wall between the market and main gallery into an interactive element featuring built-in seats, windows and large billboard with changing public art selected by a panel including the market traders and local community. The first commission by Katie Cuddon has proved to be a vibrant backdrop within Tŷ Pawb, often featuring in visitors’ social media posts.
Furniture within the building designed by Tim Denton and local community groups also borrows from the same streetscape language, and like the Sqwr y Bobl curtains, people can transform spaces by moving pieces around to suit different events.
Key Sustainability Points
The project’s central brief and themes of re-use and the creation of shared space are in themselves intrinsically sustainable, this therefore being hard-wired into every stage of the design. The project has avoided waste production and unnecessary energy use of new-build by re-using and repurposing an existing building. The existing building fabric is re-used and uprated with additional insulation.
The existing concrete structure - specifically the fine pre-cast concrete floor units - has been exposed internally to provide thermal mass which helps dampen daily temperature fluctuations and therefore unnecessary energy heating/cooling at different times of the day. This has also reduced the use and potential future waste of gypsum based building products, and their metal support framing, both high embodied energy products. Large areas of fairfaced block walls were used, which add to the exposed internal thermal mass as well as being extremely rugged, long-lasting and avoiding unnecessary use of finishing materials.
Timber waste products (e.g. plywood) were used as finishing materials rather than high embodied energy gypsum and metal frame products.
New, efficient mechanical and electrical plant has been installed throughout along with new, high-efficiency lighting.
The new arts centre is embedded in the city centre, making use of current transport infrastructure and limiting additional journeys created by the use of the new facility.
“It (Tŷ Pawb) is welcoming, animated, open, unpretentious and multifarious, while also calm and dignified. If this can’t bring art and everyday life together, I don’t know what will.”
Rowan Moore, architecture critic, The Observer
- Design and Construction Information
Client: Wrexham County Borough Council
Architect: Featherstone Young. To obtain further details of the design and development team, please contact the Architect.
Date of Completion: April 2018
Contract value: £4.5m
Site Area: GIA 3,705m2 (ground floor 3,050m2, first floor 655m2)
Funding: Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government